Background: Estimates of obesity, based on body mass index (BMI) reveal that Canadian adults have become heavier over the past quarter century. However, a comprehensive assessment of fitness requires additional measures. This article provides up-to-date estimates of fitness levels of Canadians aged 20 to 69 years. Results are compared with estimates from 1981.
Data and methods: Data are from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). Historical estimates are from the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey. Means, medians and cross-tabulations were used to compare fitness levels by sex and age group and between survey years.
Results: Mean scores for aerobic fitness, flexibility, muscular endurance and muscular strength declined at older ages, and BMI, waist circumference, skinfold measurements and waist-to-hip ratio increased. Males had higher scores than females for aerobic fitness, muscular endurance and muscular strength; females had higher scores for flexibility. Muscular strength and flexibility decreased between 1981 and 2007-2009; BMI, waist circumference and skinfold measurements increased.
Interpretation: Based on results of the fitness tests and anthropometric measurements, many Canadian adults face health risks due to suboptimal fitness levels.